Background to loss of Felix

Felix is a short-haired black and white male neutered cat, about four and a half years old. He has a pink nose and I think his foot pads are also pink. It's his left back leg which has been amputated. He's very friendly with people (too friendly with strangers obviously).

Up until 20th Nov 2004, he had always lived with us in the house that he had been born in, with his sister from the same litter and a close cat "family" of 6 other rescued cats. The other cats defended his territory and protected him from any threats, allowing him to carry on living more or less the same life he'd enjoyed when 4-legged.

He first went missing about 9pm on 20th Nov 2004, just before his evening feed. I tried to call him in about 10 mins after he'd forced his way through the locked catflap and when he didn't turn up I searched the streets for him till about 3:30 am, but there was no sign. I began house to house enquiries the next day, delivering a poster door to door and displaying this in local shops etc. I also contacted RSPCA for advice and they advertised him on their "Lost" site but I got no real leads until the evening of 26th Nov, when a neighbour rang to tell me that he had found him, literally yards from our home, and mistaken him for his own 4-legged cat.

Alarmed because the cat seemed"unable to stand properly", he'd assumed "his" cat was injured and rushed him to the 24 hour vets, PetMedics in Wardley, where he discovered that Felix had been 3-legged for a long time and was not in fact his own cat. Unfortunately, he decided not to return Felix to where he had found him and left him at Petmedics, from where Felix was transferred to a local Animal Sanctuary. The neighbour apologised that he had not responded to my poster earlier as he had been in hospital himself all the previous week and only seen it once he'd been discharged that evening.

Although he'd told me I wouldn't be able to ring the Sanctuary till the morning, I was desperate to confirm the story and make arrangements to reclaim him so I tried to ring them straight away, hoping I could at least leave an answerphone message, but no luck. I did get through to Petmedics who seemed convinced from my description that the cat they'd seen was Felix but were strangely reluctant to give me any info as to whether he'd been injured or needed any treatment. They just kept telling to wait till I spoke to the Sanctuary in the morning.

The following morning, the Sanctuary confirmed that they had had Felix, but once they discovered that they'd already re-homed him, they became quite hostile and told me I should "be grateful they'd not put him down and just forget about him". They wouldn't tell me when they'd re-homed him, except to say they re-home after 3 days, or whether he'd been injured. When I asked what steps I might take to attempt to negotiate his return, they offered no suggestions at all and suggested that there was nothing at all that I could do about it.

In fact, despite ringing daily, sometimes several times a day, it was not until Friday 3rd December that I persuaded the Sanctuary's Manager that I had a right to know any answers to these queries. It was only then, after nearly a fortnight worrying and assuming that he must have been seriously injured, that they finally admitted that the vet who had examined him had found him to be unhurt and not requiring any treatment. She agreed to forward a letter to the new "owner" so we could attempt to negotiate Felix's return.

We sent a long letter in early Dec, explaining what a good life Felix had had with us and the risks he would face if allowed out in a new place without his cat bodyguards, and pleading with the new "owner" to make contact. In late Jan, having heard nothing back, we wrote to the Sanctuary again, asking them to check our letter had been received and to forward a new, shorter letter offering this person a £1,000 reward (which we could barely afford) for his safe and speedy return.

We still got no response until Weds 23rd Feb when we received a letter from the new "owner" explaining that she had taken Felix to stay at her sister's and that he had run away from there when she'd let him out on Thurs 17th Feb. She had not included either her own or her sister's addresses or any contact details in the letter, but the very blurred postmark on the envelope said "North West Midlands". However, she says it's a small village and door to door enquiries haven't produced any leads.

[ The Royal Mail informs us that the postal area 'North West Midlands' covers the postal districts   M27, M28 and M38 ]


Steph Prior and Chris Hadfield.


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